May 8, 2010

Today is Birthmothers' Day

I was curious about Birthmothers' Day because I have a grandson that was put up for adoption five years ago, and I thought I would try to find out more about this observance. Now that I have done some research I'm not quite sure what to think about Birthmothers' Day.

The Purpose of Birthmothers' Day
Birthmothers' Day was created in 1990 by a group of birthmothers in Seattle, Washington. It is held the Saturday before Mother's Day. The idea behind the day was to educate, honor and remember. I read articles from birthmothers and adult adoptees, and I found that there is quite a controversy about whether or not this day should even exist.

What I gathered from reading from the birthmothers point of view is that these women feel, in a way, disconnected to the traditional celebration of Mother's Day. Many feel that they are not acknowledged or considered by others to be mothers because they are not raising the children which they bore, yet they did bare those children and have a strong motherly connection to them, whether they are involved in an open adoption where they are a part of the child's life, or not.

To some, Birthmothers' Day is a day to get together with other women who have gone through the same experience they have, women who have felt the pain of loss. Women who have felt grief and sadness for losing the chance to parent their child. They are women who want to say to someone who understands "I am a mother. I have a child. A child whom I have deep feelings for."

I also gathered that these women, writing the articles, wondered themselves if there should be a separate day besides Mother's Day for them to be remembered.

Wrong to Have a Day to Celebrate Loss?
I read one article from an adult adoptee and another article from an anonymous writer, in which to be honest, I couldn't tell if they were a birthmother or an adoptee or neither, but they were angry. These two people were deeply offended that anyone would create such a day as Birthmothers' Day.

As I read these two articles I did not feel that the adoptee's anger was directed toward their birthmother's but towards the people who created this observance. They expressed belief that it was planned and created by baby brokers and adopters.

The adult adoptee expressed the feelings of loss and sadness that an adopted child feels. They also experience deep pain and grief at being separated from their mother, their father, their family. Pain at not knowing their heritage, their history, their very identity. In many cases an adoptee is expected to swallow his/her pain and cannot openly express their feelings of sadness. She also expressed that adopted children think of their mother's everyday, and do not need a designated day in which someone tells them "...what to think of our mother's, when to think of them, or to boldly be expected to celebrate our loss."

She said, "Birthmothers Day Celebration Day - It is a day of cruel expectations, illusions and manipulation. It's goal is to promote the oppression and exploitation of other women so that baby brokers can sell their children. It is sick, twisted and highly offensive to me as an adult adoptee."

I am not a birthmother or an adoptee so I cannot completely understand what they feel. But as a grandmother of a child that was adopted, whom I've only seen once, and knowing the feelings of yearning to have this little boy in our family's lives, I empathize with birthmother's and with adoptees. But I also want to make it clear that I believe adoption to be a very good thing. I don't believe that the [sited] adult adoptee's experience with adoption is typical. I know in the case of my grandson, and the situation surrounding his birth, that his adoptive parents have been able to give him a happier life, and the love and caring that he needs, and I will forever be grateful to them. But, after reading these articles I am unsure what my feelings about Birthmothers' Day are. I definitely need to give it more thought.

Sources:  "Birthmothers' Day" - An Adoptees Perspective by Anne Patterson
adoption.about.come  Birth Mother's Day or Mother's Day by Jan Baker

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